So, yesterday I saw the Hughes Brothers/Warner film The Book of Eli. This is one of those films that as soon as I saw the commercial I was all “Oh, I am seeing that movie!”- Post-Apocalyptic? Denzel Washington? Gary Oldman? A yep, I am there…
So sure enough, yesterday I was there.
The set up for the film is pretty common for the genre: It’s 30-something years after the world has been decimated by (presumably) nuclear war, civilization has collapsed, resources we take for granted (like water) are scarce, some folk have resorted to cannibalism, and Eli (Denzel) is, well, a man with a mission from God. He is in possession of the last copy of the Bible on Earth and it is his destiny to take it west. However, there is another fellow out there (who like Denzel is apparently one of the last people on earth who remembers how to read) who wants that Bible. That fellow would be Carnegie, played by Gary Oldman- God and King of a small town that has sprung up in the middle of nowhere. He (of course) rules by fear and due to the fact that…well….he knows and controls where some drinkable water is.
‘Course it’s just a matter of time before these two run afoul of each other…
Filmed in a very gritty almost black and white style- with an impressive budget and good soundtrack, I gotta say “The Book of Eli” is a good, but very strange movie. It’s not quite an action flick (while there is a lot of action in it), and while tremendously brutal- it is not without a hopeful message and moving moments. Denzel Washington is good as the stoic, almost old west feeling Eli, who is not inclined to do violence unless provoked, who generally prefers to keep to himself and his own task unless he has to do otherwise (and yeah, you know he gets provoked and has to do otherwise…)
And he is seen doing a great many things one does not think about having to do if they survived the apocalypse: Eating cat, being thrilled with a good, solid pair of boots he removed from a corpse, oiling up his skin to keep it from blistering, scavenging through a car- complete with a skeleton- for anything that might be of use- bartering away useful and prized possessions for water, washing up with foraged wet-naps…and of course kicking the asses of people who attempt to steal his prized possession…the thing which he must take west- a big leather-bound copy of the bible.
Gary Oldman is also good, I mean, hell, a skeevy, sleazy,would be dictator of what is left of civilization who is obsessed with getting his hands on a bible? This is what Gary Oldman does. And yep, he does it well. You want to kick his ass as a viewer.
The movie also stars Mila Kunis (that 70’s Show) as Solaris- and while she is not really necessary to the story IMHO, she adds for some flavor as the brave young woman who was born after the war, cannot read, and wants to learn about life different from what she knows.
But as I said, this is a strange movie. It is absolutely a tale about good and evil, it absolutely has religious overtones, and is a strange mix of action, drama, character study, bleak, grim film making and a look at what humanity might just be like should the apocalypse come.
I liked the movie, but I will say this: It does contain some graphic violence, and seemingly like all post apocalyptic movies, more than one scene that will remind female viewers of just how much it would suck to survive after the end of the world (read- not one, not two, but three attempted/completed rape scenes- not graphic, but violent and shaking enough). So keep that in mind if you decide to see “The Book of Eli”.
Bonus points however for the prevalence of blast goggles in this film.